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May 7, 2022 at 3pm UK at Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace
1 - 0
Zaha (31' pen.)
Hughes (64'), Olise (90+4')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Kamara (16'), King (84')
Kamara (69')

Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Watford, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Watford's relegation from the Premier League could be confirmed on Saturday when the Hornets take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

At best, the departing Roy Hodgson's return to his former club could grant Watford a stay of execution should other results also go their way, but relegation to the Championship is now a matter of when, rather than if.

Match preview

Any hopes of a miraculous survival bid for Watford faded in the space of just three minutes last weekend, when the Hornets collapsed late on at home to relegation rivals Burnley.

Leading from the eighth minute until the 83rd, Hodgson's side then conceded a quickfire double to all but condemn them to relegation from the Premier League for a fourth time.

Mathematically, that has not been confirmed yet, with Watford 12 points from safety with 12 points still up for grabs, but anything other than a win for them this weekend would rubber-stamp it, as would any points for Burnley and Leeds United regardless of what Watford do.

While that late defeat to Burnley was the final nail in Watford's coffin, the real damage had been done long before then, and a run of five consecutive defeats since the beginning of April has seen them go down with a whimper in the end.

The decision to appoint Roy Hodgson in January has not paid dividends, with the former England boss winning just two of his 14 matches in charge and taking eight points from a possible 42 - the lowest points-per-game tally of his long and distinguished career.

It is not the note on which Hodgson would have wanted to go out, but his announcement this week that he will leave at the end of the season and likely retire has led to fitting accolades for his 46-year coaching career.

Four of those years came at Selhurst Park, and he will be hoping that his hometown stadium can at least provide one last happy memory for him, if not for the club that plays there.

There have not been many signs of that being the case recently, though, and the statistics brutally lay bare just why Watford are destined for a return to the second tier.

The Hornets have shipped 69 goals this season - the second-highest tally in the club's Premier League history - and have lost a league-high 24 of their 34 outings so far.

At the other end of the pitch, Watford have had a league-low eight different goalscorers excluding own goals this season and have found the back of the net just 32 times overall - the third-lowest tally in the division.

Watford have actually fared significantly better away from home than at Vicarage Road this season, with 15 of their 22 points coming on the road, but they have also won just one of their last 29 league games against London opposition - and that came in the Championship last season.

In the Premier League alone, the Hornets are on a 14-match losing streak against London clubs - the longest ever such losing run in top-flight history - so even their relatively respectable away record may not give them much optimism heading into this match.

That run includes a 4-1 Palace win in February's reverse fixture, and should the Eagles repeat that result on Saturday then it would be their first league double over Watford for a decade.

While Watford essentially only have pride left to fight for, Palace will have their sights set on a best league finish since 1990-91, and only a second top-half finish in the Premier League era.

Patrick Vieira has enjoyed a positive first season at the helm, rebuilding the team from the Hodgson era and steering them to 12th place, only three points off ninth-placed rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.

Turning draws into wins will be one of the main targets for next season, with Palace sharing the spoils on a league-high 14 occasions and winning just nine times so far this term, but they have also only lost 11 games - the same number as Champions League hopefuls Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

The nature of their turnaround to beat Southampton 2-1 last time out would have pleased Vieira hugely with that in mind, and they could now string together back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.

Consistency in results will be another target for 2022-23, but Palace are already showing signs of consistency on the defensive front, with only Manchester City and Liverpool having conceded fewer goals since the beginning of February.

Indeed, the Eagles have now kept a clean sheet in each of their last three home league games - including against Man City and Arsenal - and could make that four in a row for the first time ever in the Premier League this weekend.

With Leicester City and Newcastle United not in action until Sunday, and Brighton playing in the late kickoff, victory for Crystal Palace in this game would temporarily lift them up to ninth, and they will be firm favourites to achieve that against an ailing Watford side.

Crystal Palace Premier League form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

Crystal Palace form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

Watford Premier League form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Tyrick Mitchell will be hopeful of a recall at left-back for Palace in this one, having returned to the bench last time out.

Vieira also left Wilfried Zaha out of his starting lineup for that match, but the Ivorian came off the bench to score a dramatic late winner and he is expected to returning to the XI this weekend.

Zaha scored twice in the reverse fixture, while the winner last weekend means that this is now his best goalscoring season in the Premier League with 12.

Palace have plenty of other options elsewhere too, with Christian Benteke, Odsonne Edouard and Cheikhou Kouyate among those pushing for a recall, but Vieira is unlikely to tinker too much with a winning formula.

Luka Milivojevic should be available after a slight injury, although is unlikely to start, while Nathan Ferguson remains sidelined.

Watford will assess Tom Cleverley and Craig Cathcart ahead of the match, with both players having now returned to training after missing the defeat to Burnley last time out.

Saturday's match will come too soon for Cucho Hernandez, though, while Nicolas Nkoulou, Kwadwo Baah and Francisco Sierralta are also expected to miss out.

With relegation now all but confirmed, Hodgson could look to set the foundations for next season in the remaining matches, meaning appearances from youngsters or fringe players could become more common.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, McArthur, Schlupp; Eze, Mateta, Zaha

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Ngakia, Kabasele, Samir, Kamara; Sissoko, Louza, Cleverley; Sarr, Pedro, Dennis

We say: Crystal Palace 2-0 Watford

Relegation can sometimes allow clubs to play with the shackles off, so some improvement may come from Watford in the closing weeks of the season, but right now they are still in the limbo of knowing that they are effectively down, without the mathematical confirmation.

That is likely to come this weekend, and with Hodgson also departing, there is a danger that the Hornets could give up on this season and begin to focus on life back in the Championship.

Palace, meanwhile, still have goals for the campaign and so we are predicting them to pick up a relatively comfortable win this weekend.

Data Analysis

Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats, suggests the most likely outcome of this match is a Crystal Palace win with a probability of 60.94%. A draw has a probability of 22.4% and a win for Watford has a probability of 16.63%.

The most likely scoreline is Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford with a probability of 12.77% and the second most likely scoreline is Crystal Palace 2-0 Watford with a probability of 11.67%.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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